I confess I’d been too obsessed with the chatting, the goodie bags and the pre-race banana supply for our runners to really think about the race part of our retreat weekend. This was great, as I had no nerves or expectations at when we arrived at Piazza Maggiore. I was just thinking about what flavour of gelato to choose afterwards!
It was very crowded at the start – heaps more walkers this year, including many stylish Italian dogs and grannies. We could only manage a saunter for the first couple of kilometres.
Initially I felt really stiff and clunky. I’d slackened off with my training in the second half of my Spring 5K course re-do. Also, I’d abandoned my ageing trainers in Sydney to save room in my suitcase but not got round to buying newies, so I was in my gardening shoes (Scottish mud still attached). I felt a bit panicky that I was holding back Clare and Honor, my excellent walking buddies.
But then around 2.5 km we smelled cigarette smoke. A streetside cafe? A bustling bar? No, it was the three ladies walking in front of us in their Running Festival t-shirts!
Is this where you want to be? I thought, Back with the grannies, dugs and chain smokers?
I pondered that awhile as we plodded on.
Around 3km Honor said, “I think we could overtake that lady with the big handbag… what do you think?”
So we overtook the bag lady. Then we overtook the Lady with Two Bum Bags. Then we quietly and methodically picked off a bunch more ladies we gave snarky nicknames to.
By then we had a really nice rhythm going. The killers within had awakened!
I could see on Runkeeper our pace was quite fast for a walk. I felt emotional that Clare and Honor were with me – they’ve long inspired me and I wanted to put in my best contribution to our wee team. It was time to set aside the angsty mind chatter and go for it.
As we neared Parco Montagnola our pace was on fire and I calculated if we really motored, we could sneak under an hour for the 6km. We really powered up the hill back into the park. I was gasping like a gaspy thing, eeking out every last bit of energy. I thought I was going to cark it. It made me realise how much I doddle along without pushing myself when I’m on my own!
Then I suggested we run the last wee bit to make sure we sneaked under 60 minutes. It was hilarious seeing Julia’s face at the finish line as we ran towards her. And we did it! 6.02km in 59:06! We made it under the hour, at an average pace of 09:46 min/km, which is faster than our 2012 pace. I was chuffed considering how slow the first couple of kays were.
Now all you proper runner types out there, please don’t laugh. This is progress for me! There’d been so many ups and downs since Bologna 2012 that it didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere, so it was such a brilliant surprise to see improvement twelve months on.